New “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Regulations a Positive Step Toward Repeal This Year
March 25, 2010
Today, the Department of Defense released regulations that will limit the circumstances under which a service member can be investigated and discharged from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” These new regulations will have a tangible impact on the thousands of lesbian and gay service members who are currently serving in silence, under threat of being investigated and discharged. Specifically, raising the level of the commander authorized to initiate a discharge investigation, revising the threshold for credible information and third-party allegations, and protecting disclosure to medical and psychological personnel and for other non-military purposes, are welcome and long overdue. However, despite these changes, lesbian and gay service member will continue to risk being discharged based on their sexual orientation. Said HRC President Joe Solmonese:
"These new regulations are a positive step toward repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law this year. Congress must continue to move forward with legislative action to repeal the law this year while the Pentagon continues its work to determine how to best implement that repeal. Two branches of government can and should work concurrently toward repeal. There is no reason for Congress to wait for the details on implementation when Secretary Gates and the President have made it clear that this law should be repealed." He added: "Our community is doing the hard work of lobbying members of Congress and making sure the grassroots pressure is on for repeal. With health insurance reform passed and a successful conclusion reached, now is the time for more visible and aggressive leadership from the White House to push for a vote this year."
Joe also as an op-ed on the subject on the Huffington Post where he writes:
We cannot forget that thousands of men and women – who serve just as honorably and bravely as their straight peers – still cannot serve openly. We welcome this step forward, but we can’t stop fighting for full repeal. It would be tragic to allow progress to lead to inaction. Now is the time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and this is the year.
UPDATE: Here is our further analysis of the new regulations: The newly revised regulations require discharges to be initiated, investigated and authorized by a higher level of officer than was previously required by the regulations. In addition, the regulations now require that “credible information” provided by “reliable persons” must be given under oath, and that overheard statements and hearsay should not be considered “credible information.” Moreover, the revised regulations state that third-parties motivated to harm a service member should not be considered reliable for the purpose of initiating a discharge. Furthermore, the revised regulations clearly prohibit certain categories of confidential information from being used for discharge purposes, including information provided to lawyers, clergy, psychotherapists, medical professionals, domestic and physical abuse professionals and federal government security clearance investigators. They also require that a preponderance of the evidence support the discharge of a service member; that an investigation should not evaluate service member’s credibility when determining if that service member engaged in prohibited acts; and that a service member may decide to refrain from commenting on an accusation of prohibited without a negative inference being drawn from that decision.
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